At the start of the year, permanent adult critical care capacity in Ireland stood at 255 beds, according to the National Office of Clinical Audit. This included 204 Level 3 ICU beds and 51 Level 2 HDU beds. Funding for a further 40 adult critical care beds and two paediatric critical care beds was provided as part of the response to Covid-19 in March 2020.
Surge capacity supports the provision of critical care as required, with the number open on any given day subject to fluctuation in respect of available staff. At the outset, substantial work was carried out to develop a critical care capacity plan, including identification of additional ICU and ventilation spaces. The development of the plan, including consideration of staffing, ventilators and oxygen capacity, involved considerable input from clinical, operational and estates perspective, all of which was essential to the intensive effort to deliver the necessary surge capacity.
Given the high complexity nature of critical care, planning for provision of additional capacity must be clinically led in order to ensure appropriate provision of high quality, safe care that supports wider strategic reform. Additional critical care beds must be appropriately located to ensure provision of highly complex, specialised care, and to support and enable strategic reform and service provision. This is key to ensuring that investment delivers optimal value for money, and is in line with the Sláintecare strategic direction, which aims to ensure delivery of the right care, in the right place at the right time.
Alongside strategic planning for critical care capacity expansion, workforce planning is essential in order to ensure that sufficient numbers of trained staff are in place when additional capacity is ready for use. Such workforce planning should take account of requirements in training and recruitment timelines across these areas to ensure that new capacity is appropriately staffed in a timely way.
In relation to the specific data requested, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.